Analysis of artificial corner reflector's radar cross section: A physical optics perspective

Xin Jian Shan, Jing Yuan Yin, Dan Lin Yu, Cheng Fan Li, Jun Juan Zhao, Gui Fang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Among many of the differential interferometric synthetic-aperture radar technologies, artificial corner reflectors (ACR) are widely used in monitoring earthquake deformation and urban subsidence due to their relative stability on synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) acquisition. Apparently, the detection and extraction of ACRs on remotely sensed images would be of utmost importance. Many different geometric types of ACRs are designed to achieve maximum detection. Among them, dihedral, rectangle trihedral, and pyramidal ACRs are the most commonly employed. The cost and difficulty of deploying ACRs in the field, however, render comparison among the three types rather impractical, if not impossible. The current study attempts to tackle the issue from a physical optics perspective. Adopting radar cross section (RCS) as the measure of ACRs' detectability, we examined the relationships between the ACRs' RCS under vertical polarity with various parameters including the radar incident angles, width and heights of the ACRs and the azimuthal angles. The analyses indicate that under vertical polarity, among the three types of ACRs, the rectangle trihedral ACR is the most tolerant to its deploying surroundings. To verify the physical optics analysis results, we collected ENVISAT data from a variety of deployed ACRs in the Yan-Huai Basin, China, and derived their reflectance characteristics. The field data agree with the theoretical analyses. From this practice, it seems that the physical optics method might prove to be a rather economical and effective approach to design and select appropriate ACRs in field deployment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2755-2765
Number of pages11
JournalArabian Journal of Geosciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Artificial corner reflector (ACR)
  • Physical optics method
  • Radar cross section (RCS)


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